Rats and jellyfish combine to join bomb squad, as described in an article in New Scientist, 12 May 2007. Scientists at Temple University, Philadelphia are developing an explosive detector using smell receptor proteins found in rats. Smell receptor proteins work by sending electrical signals when certain chemicals attach to them. In animals the electrical signals go to the brain and are interpreted as different smells. Yeasts also use chemical receptor proteins to generate electrical signals even though they don’t have a brain. Scientists have taken receptor genes from rats and inserted them into the yeast so they would generate the electrical signal when they were exposed to TNT, a common component of explosive devices. They also inserted a gene from a jellyfish, which produces a green fluorescent glow into the yeast when the electrical signal is generated. Therefore, when the yeast is exposed to the right chemical signal it glows a fluoro green colour which can be easily seen or detected by an electronic colour sensor. The scientists are hoping to embed the chemical sensitive yeast into a semisolid film to make it easy to use in explosive detection. They are also hoping to apply the same genetic engineering techniques to make detectors for other types of chemicals.

Editorial Comment: When human scientists combine genes from different species to make a biological functioning system it is called “genetic engineering” and everyone admits that it took knowledge and creative design to make the system work. Therefore, it is inconsistent to claim that functioning systems of genes within rats, jellyfish and yeasts put themselves together without any plan, purpose or creativity. All such genetic manipulations remind us that it takes plan, purpose and clever manipulation to add a new function to a living organism and therefore genetic engineering is powerful evidence for creation and against evolution. (Ref. bio-engineering, olfaction, biotechnology)

Evidence News 29 August 2007